Make Your Travel Nurse Housing Feel Like Home
By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
As healthcare employment continues to change, more nurses are leaving their homes to seek the adventure of travel nursing. I’ll admit that leaving the comfort of my own home was the only thing that held me back from traveling--for a short while. Change is always hard, but I soon realized that if I could take my wife and a few essentials with me on my assignments, I’d be okay.
So when I prepared for my first travel nursing job, I knew that I had to take a little of home with me. I’m not hung up on “things,” but scaling back to what we could take in our vehicle meant a good bit of prioritizing and even a little soul-searching. If you’re getting ready to travel, have you thought about what’s most important to you?
Having some familiar favorites around can keep you grounded and keep you from missing home too much. Your list of essentials will be unique to you, but here is my list of the top things that helped me make it through the transition to traveling nurse and feel at home in a new place.
1. Pictures of the people in my life. Most travel nurse housing that you’ll get through an agency consists of a free, private apartment that comes furnished. That means basic furniture and perhaps some artwork on the walls. I prefer my own art, namely photos of my friends and family. I personally love the digital picture frames that can roll through 16-plus gigs of memories, and a few collage frames of good times and great friends don’t hurt either!
2. My comfy blanket. I know what you’re thinking: “Is this guy an adult or a child trapped in a travel nurse’s body?” (Both, to be honest.) It’s not that I needed a security blanket, but what this item represented was special. I was given a jean blanket with a fleece wolf pattern on the other side at my high school graduation. It is the warmest blanket ever, and I still have it. It has always meant a lot to me, and having it while traveling was a nice reminder of home. (Fill in with your own substitute.)
3. Artwork and other knickknacks. These were essential to me. You don’t want to be a pack rat, but little, meaningful things can make an empty shell of an apartment feel like home. I didn’t bring much. A favorite painting of a said “starry night.” Some seashells from trips to the ocean in a glass container. Oh, and of course the cement chicken head lawn ornament (don’t ask). The little things that are special to you can help you feel like you brought your life with you instead of leaving everything behind.
4. Gifts and mementos from my travels. While coffee mugs may be a dime a dozen, I am very particular about my coffee cup. It’s a white mug from Lexington, Kentucky, that reads “Horse Capital. “ It was a gift from another traveler who was from Kentucky, and I still drink out of it every morning. That, along with the classic Nalgene water bottles that are plastered with stickers from my travels, are a constant reminder of where I’ve been.
5. Favorite flicks. Nowadays, we have great streaming options from multiple online sources, but when I started traveling years ago it wasn’t that easy. I always packed a DVD player and a book of my favorite classic movies from my youth. Classics from every genre kept me laughing and keeping memories of family/college friends fresh in my mind.
To me, life isn’t about stuff. It’s about the experience and the adventure of the journey--and the memories you make along the way.
A favorite quote of mine is this one, by J.R.R. Tolkien: “Not all who wander are lost.” This is so true of the travel nurse lifestyle. Wandering on purpose is a blast, and you can bring your memories with you--and make so many more! I prefer to keep the packing list simple and meaningful.
And that leads to my closing quote: “Keep happiness simple, that way it’s easy to find.”
A License to Wander as a Nurse Traveler
The Ins and Outs of Travel Nurse Housing
The Essential Packing Guide for Travel Nurses
25 Quotes for Travelers
Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
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